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Science Ticker

Solar panels are poised to be truly green

solar panels

Solar panels are about to break even on their energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.

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The solar panel industry has nearly paid its climate debt. The technology will break even in terms of energy usage by 2017 and greenhouse gas emissions by 2018 at the latest, if it hasn’t done so already, researchers calculate.

Building, assembling and installing solar panels consumes energy and produces climate-warming greenhouse gases. Once in use, though, the panels gradually reverse this imbalance by producing green energy.

The manufacturing process has also gotten greener over the last 40 years, environmental scientist Atse Louwen of Utrecht University in the Netherlands and colleagues report December 6 in Nature Communications. Each doubling of the combined energy-generating capacity of all solar panels has coincided with a 12 to 13 percent drop in the energy used during manufacturing and a 17 to 24 percent drop in their carbon footprint.

Chemistry

Names for four new elements get seal of approval

By Emily Conover 1:35pm, November 30, 2016
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry has approved the proposed names for the four elements added to the periodic table in December 2015.
Oceans,, Climate,, Animals

Coral die-off in Great Barrier Reef reaches record levels

By Sarah Zielinski 9:43am, November 29, 2016
Bleaching has killed more than two-thirds of corals in some parts of the Great Barrier Reef, scientists have confirmed.
Animals,, Neuroscience,, Psychology

Dogs form memories of experiences

By Laura Sanders 12:00pm, November 23, 2016
New experiments suggest that dogs have some version of episodic memory, allowing them to recall specific experiences.
Health,, Microbiology

This week in Zika: Vaginal vulnerability, disease double trouble and more

By Meghan Rosen 12:30pm, November 17, 2016
Puerto Rico cases of Zika suggest that the virus prefers women. And two new findings reveal more about Zika’s transmission and ability to survive outside the body.
Animals

In some ways, hawks hunt like humans

By Helen Thompson 10:57am, November 17, 2016
Raptors may track their prey in similar patterns to primates.
Clinical Trials,, Cancer,, Genetics

Chinese patient is first to be treated with CRISPR-edited cells

By Tina Hesman Saey 7:00am, November 16, 2016
Researchers used CRISPR/Cas9 to engineer immune cells that were then injected into a patient with lung cancer, the journal Nature reports.
Climate,, Animals

Skimpy sea ice linked to reindeer starvation on land

By Susan Milius 7:23pm, November 15, 2016
Unseasonably scant sea ice may feed rain storms inland that lead to ice catastrophes that kill Yamal reindeer and threaten herders’ way of life.
Climate,, Pollution

CO2 emissions stay steady for third consecutive year

By Thomas Sumner 8:30am, November 15, 2016
Global emissions of carbon dioxide from human activities will probably see almost no increase in 2016 despite economic growth.
Animals,, Biophysics,, Conservation

Narwhals are really, really good at echolocation

By Helen Thompson 11:33am, November 11, 2016
Audio recordings from the Arctic suggest that narwhals take directional sonar to the extreme.
Climate,, Oceans

Say hola to La Niña

By Thomas Sumner 5:34pm, November 10, 2016
La Niña, El Niño’s meteorological sister, has officially taken over and could alter weather patterns throughout the world this winter.
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